Perched at an altitude of 2600 metres, every day she observes the trail of mountaineers. Since 2007 Christine Mattel has been running the Conscrits refuge hut above Les Contamines. Located 5 hours on foot from the village, this modern building was constructed in 1997. On arrival, hikers and mountaineers swap their boots for multicolored plastic shoes. The view here is breathtaking. “We are in the high mountains”, explains Christine Mattel.” Those that visit Les Conscrits are not simple tourists, but true mountaineers, seeking accommodation and food before continuing along their chosen route”.
Bookings, meals (with the help of a chef from Nepal), Christine takes care of her guests from morning until night. Early to rise at around 3.00am, she never gets to bed before 11.00pm.
“The time to talk with guests, exchange with the guides… human contact is the interesting part of this profession “.
Before running Les Conscrits, Christine Mattel ran other mountain refuge huts, the first when she was only 21 years old. Daughter of Hungarian immigrants settled in Lorraine, she discovered Les Contamines during her childhood holidays and vowed, every year, that she would return to live here. When she abandoned work in the shelters, she came here to work for the local Mountain Guides, in their office.
“I was immediately accepted as part of the great family of Les Contamines.”
Since then, she has never left the village. Her daughter, Coline, is one of the resort’s top sportswomen, a successful ski jumper! Age 17, she is presently preparing to participate in the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year.
“I don’t consider Les Contamines as a ski resort but as a real village!” says Christine Mattel. “I’m never tired of this lifestyle. Every day, the light is different. One thing is for sure, I’ll be staying!”
Photos : © Zir